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The Postcolonial Orient
The Politics of Difference and the Project of Provincialising Europe
In this incisive and impeccably researched critique of Postcolonialism, Kaiwar argues that subaltern studies itself is marred by orientalism.
In this far-reaching and insightful work, Vasant Kaiwar analyzes the political, economic, and ideological cross-currents that have shaped and informed postcolonial studies. Kaiwar mobilizes Marxism to demonstrate that subaltern studies is marred by orientalism, and that far richer understandings of ‘Europe’ not to mention ‘colonialism’, ‘modernity’ and ‘difference’ are possible without a postcolonialism captive to phenomenological-existentialism and post-structuralism.
Reviews
  • “The great value of this book lies in Kaiwar's exceptional ability to historicize both postcolonial studies and our global present. This stimulating book offers an exceptional insight into the postcolonial Orient and Europe alike, showing how a critique of Eurocentrism is not sufficient without considering global capitalism. With theoretical sophistication and political passion, Kaiwar makes a compelling case for the still unrealized potentialities of Marxism and modernities that lie before us.”
    —Massimiliano Tomba, Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche, Giuridiche e Studi Internazionali, Università di Padova

    "An epic elaboration of Kaiwar’s arresting thesis about the disturbing symmetries between the postcolonial Left and the Orientalist Right. Despite its calm, erudite tone and impeccable scholarship, The Postcolonial Orient bristles with unexpected reversals and revisions. We close its pages uncomfortably persuaded that Samuel Huntington and subaltern studies share the same two-dimensional thinking about an irrational East and a unique West. A seering and eloquent testament that has found its time."
    —Timothy Brennan, University of Minnesota

    "A landmark achievement. Measured, articulate and incisive, Kaiwar's book offers both a scorching critique of Subaltern Studies in its 'postcolonial' aspect and a triumphant and very contemporary counter-statement of Marxism as an 'unrenounceable project' within the universe of capitalist modernity. The central argument gathers bite and traction as the book proceeds. A lucid stylist who wears his erudition gracefully, Kaiwar ranges across the disciplines - political economy, sociology, history, philosophy, literary and cultural studies - in a work whose obvious authority is underpinned as much by its solidaristic collegiality as by the precision of its critical intelligence. This is the kind of book by which readers can reset their compasses."
    —Neil Lazarus, University of Warwick

    "Vasant Kaiwar's book is the long overdue Marxist critique of postcolonial and subaltern studies. But, important and successful as this task is, it is not the only one accomplished by the book, which proceeds to reconstruct what could be a Marxist version of subaltern history - as such, Kaiwar's book is an essential contribution to the revival of Marxist thought.”
    —Jean-Jacques Lecercle, l'Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense
    [In The Postcolonial Orient Kaiwar demonstrates [that] only a focus on the foundational status of capital…can explain both the proliferation of difference and unevenness across the world and the emergence of capitalism as a system that continues to penetrate every part of the globe, and every aspect of life. Culture and discourse remain crucial, but are best explained in relation to the totality of social relations. Marxism emerges explicitly in The Postcolonial Orient as the ‘unrenounceable’ project: the key to understanding the links between exploitation and oppression and to forging solidarity across the world. … The greatest contribution of The Postcolonial Orient is that it combines the work of critiquing postcolonial theory with that of building better understandings of history and culture in the colonised and postcolonial world….By historicising postcolonial theory and also offering an alternative, understanding of colonialism, capitalism, modernity and culture, Kaiwar’s book gives us the breadth and depth of field we need to understand the complex workings of capitalism with colonialism, ideology, and culture.
    —Pranav Jani, Ohio State University, author of Decentering Rushdie: Cosmopolitanism and the Indian Novel in English
  • “The great value of this book lies in Kaiwar's exceptional ability to historicize both postcolonial studies and our global present. This stimulating book offers an exceptional insight into the postcolonial Orient and Europe alike, showing how a critique of Eurocentrism is not sufficient without considering global capitalism. With theoretical sophistication and political passion, Kaiwar makes a compelling case for the still unrealized potentialities of Marxism and modernities that lie before us.”
    —Massimiliano Tomba, Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche, Giuridiche e Studi Internazionali, Università di Padova

    "An epic elaboration of Kaiwar’s arresting thesis about the disturbing symmetries between the postcolonial Left and the Orientalist Right. Despite its calm, erudite tone and impeccable scholarship, The Postcolonial Orient bristles with unexpected reversals and revisions. We close its pages uncomfortably persuaded that Samuel Huntington and subaltern studies share the same two-dimensional thinking about an irrational East and a unique West. A seering and eloquent testament that has found its time."
    —Timothy Brennan, University of Minnesota

    "A landmark achievement. Measured, articulate and incisive, Kaiwar's book offers both a scorching critique of Subaltern Studies in its 'postcolonial' aspect and a triumphant and very contemporary counter-statement of Marxism as an 'unrenounceable project' within the universe of capitalist modernity. The central argument gathers bite and traction as the book proceeds. A lucid stylist who wears his erudition gracefully, Kaiwar ranges across the disciplines - political economy, sociology, history, philosophy, literary and cultural studies - in a work whose obvious authority is underpinned as much by its solidaristic collegiality as by the precision of its critical intelligence. This is the kind of book by which readers can reset their compasses."
    —Neil Lazarus, University of Warwick

    "Vasant Kaiwar's book is the long overdue Marxist critique of postcolonial and subaltern studies. But, important and successful as this task is, it is not the only one accomplished by the book, which proceeds to reconstruct what could be a Marxist version of subaltern history - as such, Kaiwar's book is an essential contribution to the revival of Marxist thought.”
    —Jean-Jacques Lecercle, l'Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense